“Since fly fishing has 10,000 writers, all of whom have apparently written a book, I’d like to see these authors refocus some of their pitches toward non-fly-fishing publications… I’m just suggesting that you also query some general-interest magazines to see if we can place a few fly fishing stories in front of people not in the choir,”

Tom Bie, editor of The Drake

(from the December issue of Angling Trade) – read the column in it’s entirety below.

No doubt, a brilliant idea… one worth follow-up.  As such, Angling Trade is now partnering with The Drake to formulate a “press fishing rendezvous” to spread fly fishing’s reach to other media.

Who better to advance the story of fly fishing to editors of other specialty-interest magazines (skiing, golf, backpacking, outdoor, women’s magazines…) than editors and writers from within the fly fishing world?  We understand their challenges.  And we know how to make stories.

So we’re going to advance this idea into action by hosting an event where we—fly fishing editors/writers—take other editor/writers to the river… to show them the allure of fly fishing, and make a case for including a fly fishing angle in their magazines.  We’re going to put it on the line, tell them our sport needs their help… show them why our sport is great… and help them make win-win stories.

Manufacturers, lodges, guides, retailers… if you want to help facilitate this… contact us at  [email protected].  This is a budding idea, and something we want to pull off in spring/summer 2010.  Who’s going to help?

A Broader Appeal: Recapturing the Cool Factor

Written by Tom Bie

There’s an intriguing bit of dialogue in Social Media, one of fall’s hottest movies, where Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin are arguing about whether or not they should begin running ads on Facebook. “It’s time for the website to start generating revenue,” Saverin says, “with advertising.” Zuckerberg answers: “No. Facebook is cool, and if we start installing pop-ups for Mountain Dew, it’s not gonna be cool. We don’t even know what it is yet. We just know that it’s cool.”

Like it or not, this is true for fly fishing as well—especially with young people. It may sound childish or irrelevant, but if our sport doesn’t look cool, kids aren’t interested. The theme of this issue is “What’s Next?” I’m reluctant to make predictions because everything—industries, attitudes, tackle, techniques, media—is moving so much faster than it used to. (Twitter didn’t even exist five years ago. Now try going a single day without hearing it mentioned). Nevertheless, I can say with certainty that making fly fishing look cool matters, especially in the oft-repeated desire to “attract more young people to the sport.”

In his editor’s letter, Kirk suggests that we make a stronger connection with the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), and “bass nation.” And I agree. We absolutely buy xanax online safe should reach out to those groups, because having relationships with them can only help our industry, especially when it comes to lobbying efforts, crossover marketing initiatives, and speaking with a united voice on conservation issues.

But when it comes to attracting new participants, I am dubious about relying too heavily on a trade group or professional organization to do it. I still believe that each and every one of us showing a few of our friends what happens when a largemouth eats a popper can attract new flyfishers as well or better than a faceless, bureaucratic-sounding trade group. I use bass fishing as an example because “reaching out to bass nation” has seemingly replaced the Second Coming of A River Runs Through It as our industry’s Hail Mary. Clinging to the notion that flyfishing’s future depends on the Banjo Minnow Master using a fly rod feels desperate to me. I think the golfer, the skier, or the mountain biker is more likely to set foot in a fly shop than the guy who has spent his entire life deciding which rubber worm to buy at Wal-Mart.

But therein lies one of the beauties of this sport. When it comes to “looking cool,” everyone’s perception is different. I don’t think professional bass fishermen look cool. To me, they look like wanna-be NASCAR drivers who can’t find the track. But to many thousands of kids—the two sons in Talladega Nights come to mind (“I’m all jacked up on Mountain Dew!”)—I’m sure bass nation guys are the epitome of cool. Which is why we need both approaches to help move this industry forward.

Also, adding to Kirk’s list in his editor’s letter, there is one other thing I’d like to see happen: Since fly fishing has 10,000 freelance writers, all of whom have apparently written a book, I’d like to see these authors start refocusing their flyfishing pitches toward some non-flyfishing publications. I’m not suggesting writers stop sending queries to Kirk Deeter, Frank Amato, Joe Healey, Andrew Steketee, Ross Purnell, Steve Probasco, Steve Walburn, Tom Bie or any other flyfishing editor. I’m just requesting that you also query some general-interest magazines to see if we can place a few flyfishing stories in front of people not in the choir. In-flight magazines would be a great place to start, like Southwest Airlines’ Spirit or United Airlines’ Hemispheres. These mags have “Top Ten” articles on golf courses or ski resorts or spas in every other issue. Let’s bombard them with some flyfishing destinations and see what happens. And if you really love the taste of rejection, send something to Mens Journal or Outside or Esquire. True, they’re a lot harder to get a story in, but if you can pull it off, a half million people will see it. And that would be cool.



  1. “What is Hip?
    Tell me tell me if you think you know..
    What is Hip?
    And if your really Hip, the passing years will show”

    Fly Fishing, true Fly Fishing is first and foremost a sporting lifestyle that is intrinsically tied to the Hunt, with one exception, Technical Art.
    That is to say, no other form of Hunting requires the presentation of an artificial food source to “trick” the prey into eating, and there by retrieving said prey by the lip no less.
    It’s rich and varied History stretches back thousands of years to ancient times. Packaging it up in some box that try’s to represent “looking cool” may capture the young heart briefly, but to keep that flame alive requires a far more solid connection.
    So why not pitch this to the “up-and-coming” as “BEING cool”, that is to say, not just a flashy package, but instead, the cool lifestyle that it has been for many generations.
    Fly Fishing does NOT have to “prove” itself. It has been top shelf for a lot longer than any “industry” scrambling for a piece of the action.
    My Dad was a Fly Fisherman. Like me, he could not wait to get on the water. He taught me to cast, but more importantly he taught me the “love” part of the sport, the importance of it, the “being outside” part, the soul connection.
    This can not come from a T-shirt or a fancy reel or a can of brew or anything else but us.
    We are the keepers of the “cool” in Fly Fishing, everything else comes in second.
    Focus…it’s not the gun that wins the battle, but the Soldier.

    Lest it be…
    …”As your striving to find the right road
    there’s one thing you should know…
    What’s Hip today, might become passe’..”

  2. I imagine Bie is trying to thin the heard a bit. The vast majority of writers, mainly young ones, have never experienced an old-school editor circa 1980’s daily newspapers. Rejection, correction and just the facts please.

    I would assert that fly fishing, by youthful definition, is not and will not, ever be hip or cool. Why? The previous reply gives away the reason, “My Dad was a fly fisherman.” If your dad, and even your mom could or would do it, it will never be cool. Therein could be the upside, the sell, the pitch, as well – for mass appeal magazines like Outside or Esquire. For Esquire, haute clothing hanging along the creek shoreline brush, and beautiful coiffed thirty-ish models waist deep in their Simms waders in the foreground, looking like they know what they are doing. Cool.
    For Outside magazine, there needs to be a flirtation with death, near death, frostbite, mauling or greater male potency – mingled with fly fishing in some place like Kamchatka. Maybe dad could help on that manuscript?

    Sure we fly fishers all dream of a day when a white knight rescues the bass fishing tournament circuit (how many billions is that worth anyway) from their knights riding Ranger Bass Boats, and with the swish of a, legal of course, 7-foot 11-inch fly rod, delivers all anglers into a new era of enlightenment. Just one tournament – win, place or show – is all we ask ye gods of fly fishing.

    Certainly fly fishing has a reputation, a history, of being “top shelf” or in plain english, elitist and culturally … homogenous. Hence, the past decade’s attempts to repackage the industry with tattoo fonts, gratuitous profanity and with an explosion of web sites where writers put their alter egos to work in an attempt to recreate fly fishing in their own likenesses. Some even go as far as to try and bond skateboard culture (cool people call it “skaters”) to fly fishing, one can only guess to make it so personally cool that their parents would never understand, much less dig it.

    I hope the reality for this next decade is that a rising tide of baby boomers will float all the boats of the fly fishing industry. Not only will this flood of newly retired people be looking for something to do, they will be healthier, better educated and wealthier than any population bubble its size – in US history. As a capitalist making his way in the free market, I think these people are “hip,” and they will define what is “hip” for the fly fishing industry by voting with their dollars. It’s probably safe to say there will be a lot of changes in the next decade, and there’s going to be plenty of room for the “hip” and “traditional” fly fishers, past, present and future.

  3. I think the real answer lies in one of the above posts. It was your father that influenced you. He taught you how to cast and he taught you how to love the sport. And it was that time together that, in part, kept your interest in fly fishing alive.

    Even in A River Runs Through It, it was the casting lessons from the father, combined with the location, that kept the sons fishing throughout their lives.

    I have 2 daughters, ages 5 and 10. They fish with me occasionally as time allows. One actually won the local fishing derby last year. Both can cast spinning rods, and hopefully one day they will learn from me how to use a fly rod. Those memories will stay with them long after I’m gone.

    While the cool factor will help, the time shared with a parent is a greater influence and will leave them with great memories. Remember, no one takes a picture of their kid holding a video game.

  4. As a past fishing mag editor and writer (Florida Sportsman and Shallow Water Angler), part-time freelancer for fly pubs and now editor of a new e-mag startup (Fly Life Magazine) the struggle was always growing fly fishing among my readership. Sadly, reader’s surveys for Florida Sportsman showed only 10 percent of readers read my fly columns and/or fly coverage all of the time. Also, fly tackle manufacturers were less likely to advertise in a “horizontal” pub that covered all aspects of saltwater fishing. And that was a vicious cycle that did not recruit new fly fishers. The key is to pound home the message that fly fishing, particularly in the salt, can be basic, and you can target “everyday” fish, not just tarpon, bones, permit (talk about a tiny niche!) stripers, etc..

    The editors of general saltwater anf bass mags are reluctant to bring fly writers into the mix because they doubt fly advertisers will follow the trail.

  5. I wrote an article last year about about solo canoes and fly fishing. I approached several editors about the story as this type of material had never been published before. It offered cross over ad potential and cross over material for new customers, it was new and fresh. Guess what? I was rejected by all. I ended up publishing it on a large, community type web site that has a larger monthly readership than the biggest magazines in the industry. The magazine editors are missing the boat. They continue to publish the same types of stories again and again, while their audience declines. They publish endless stories about Saltwater Argentina, and have some authors that are ill informed about the topics they write about. We have also fly tying “authorities” that create awful flies that are out of proportion.

    I also have written for non traditional magazines. I approached a life style magazine and they published a story about fly tying this spring. Many of the great authors have also appeared in general outdoor magazines, traditional hook and bullet magazines and also life style magazines long before there was a speciality media. Several large newspapers have also published fly fishing material. I was going to write an outdoors piece for an online phone magazine on apps for outdoors people, I found that the pay for that one was next to nothing.

    Much of this is not connecting the dots. Lets see we want to attract the bass crowd, women and kids. Not sure any of this will happen. We’ve tried it, if it was going to happen it would have already occurred. Some of the recent industry fads are also a bit dubious. Tenkara, all the extreme/ big fish/musky/articulated stuff and euro nymphing come to mind. All of which can basically be done with almost any tackle if the fly fisher learns how to apply what he already has. We want people to buy new tackle, flies, videos and books so we created new items to fill the void. Tenkara especially bothers me. What we tell customers here is you don’t need flies, fly reels, fly lines or waders. Where is the repeat sales with that?

    Innovation is what drives this sport. Think about the pontoon boat and inflatables. These boats allowed people to float rivers, create trips and questioned the new for guides. It got people out fishing. They bought rods, waders, flies and gadgets. I think we can do the same again.

    Lets find ways to bring in folks from paddling, cycling, hunting, camping, hiking and other outdoor industries. These people already enjoy the the outdoors. Many of them can utilize things we do. Many of the other outdoor industries also have issues as well. The camping/hiking has been obsessed with size/weight issues for along time. Cycling is also focused on speed/size/weight and also endurance charged moto cross /mountain biking that has alienated the average customer. By creating new products that allow us put these groups togethers, you will attract new participants. Finding ways to apply what we have will also work.

    If you build it, they will come.

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